What Is "Blood Diamond" With Leonardo DiCaprio About?

by Matt Gerrard

The 2006 movie "Blood Diamond" concerns the trade of "conflict" or "blood" diamonds in Africa. Specifically, the movie focuses on Sierra Leone during its bloody 10-year civil war. The war was largely a result of the economic disparity between the wealthy politicians who controlled the diamond trade and the rebel forces who opposed them. The main character in the movie is part of a private mercenary army that consists of ex-soldiers looking to profit from the conflict.

The Vandy Family

The story introduces father and son Solomon and Dia Vandy (Djimon Hounsou and Kagiso Kuypers), who are members of the Mende ethnic group. They live in the Shenge village, where Solomon works as a fisherman. Their village is raided and pillaged by the RUF, the anti-government rebels, and most of the villagers are massacred. Solomon is forced to do slave labor in a diamond mine, and Dia is conscripted into the rebel forces, where he is forced to participate in further atrocities. Solomon finds and hides a large pink diamond just before government forces raid the camp and take him to prison.

Danny Archer

Danny Archer, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is a Rhodesian mercenary. He was part of South Africa's 32 Battalion, which disbanded shortly before the conflict in Sierra Leone began. He is working as a diamond smuggler and arms trafficker when he is arrested for trying to move diamonds into Liberia, where a similar civil war is underway. The mercenaries who employ Archer are paid for by the Tiara Diamond Company, which arranges Archer's release.

The Deal

Archer hears about the pink diamond and arranges Solomon's release from prison. The two sneak away just as the RUF forces launch a counter-strike on the town. They bribe Maddy (Jennifer Connelly), an American journalist and humanitarian, with information about the corrupt diamond trade in exchange for safe passage into Kono, where they can attempt to retrieve the pink diamond. After meeting up with Danny's mercenary employers, Maddy leaves the country with the evidence of the Tiara Diamond Company's involvement in the conflict; they are deliberately restricting the availability of diamonds in order to drive the market value higher.

Conflict

Danny and Solomon return to the mining camp where Solomon was previously held. Solomon is captured while attempting to rescue his son Dia, who does not recognize his father -- he has been brainwashed. During a mercenary attack arranged by Archer, he and Solomon are able to kill their captors and persuade Dia to join them, but not before Archer is seriously injured.

Resolution

With the diamond in their possession, the trio heads to the meeting point for their extraction. They are pursued by mercenaries. Archer collapses and opts to stay behind and hold off the mercenaries, allowing Dia and Solomon to escape without him. Solomon sells the diamond to the Tiara Company, and Maddy photographs the illegal transaction. She goes public with the story and the Tiara Company is ruined. Political talks then begin to end the trade in blood diamonds. Solomon is the opening speaker at the talks.

About the Author

Matt Gerrard began writing in 2002, initially contributing articles about college student culture to "The Gateway" magazine, many of which were republished on the now-defunct Plinth blog. Since then, Gerrard has worked as a technician for musicians, educators, chemists and engineers. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in music technology from DeMontfort University.